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Alcohol and Anxiety

a person looks anxious by putting their head between their knees to show the effects of alcohol and anxiety

A co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis, is an individual having two or more distinct diagnoses simultaneously. In the context of mental health and addiction, dual diagnosis typically refers to having a substance use disorder (SUD), such as drug or alcohol addiction, and a mental health disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Co-occurring disorders impact millions of Americans.

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers dual diagnosis treatment in Massachusetts. As the region’s premier medical detox and residential treatment center, we understand the complex relationship between co-occurring disorders and that the key to successful recovery is the effective treatment of all existing conditions simultaneously. If you need treatment, we’re here to help. Call 866.931.6429 to learn how we can help you or your loved one begin the journey to recovery.

The Importance of Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

SUD and mental health disorders can wreak havoc in people’s lives. Each is challenging to treat, but they become even more complicated combined. Until recently, most treatments focused on addressing different conditions separately. We now know that how co-occurring disorders intertwine makes it necessary to treat them simultaneously for recovery from either to be successful and lasting.

Part of what makes co-occurring disorders so complex is that the symptoms of each disorder are similar and overlapping. The relationship between SUD and mental health disorders is an intricate combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors unique to each individual.

Common co-occurring disorders are SUD and:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depression disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Personality disorders

Many with co-occurring disorders suffer in isolation because they think they are alone in their struggle. People with mental illness often use drugs or alcohol to relieve symptoms, leading to substance abuse or addiction. Alternatively, individuals with substance abuse or addiction can develop mental health disorders. The chances for a successful recovery from either require care from a dual diagnosis treatment center.

When Alcohol and Anxiety Co-Occur

Alcohol and anxiety have a complex and bidirectional relationship. Many people with anxiety disorders rely on alcohol to cope. At the same time, prolonged or excessive alcohol abuse can contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety disorders.

Alcohol and anxiety impact the central nervous system (CNS) differently. Anxiety activates the CNS’s stress response, resulting in:

  • Increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Heightened awareness

Anxiety also impacts neurotransmitter balance, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine, which regulate mood and stress responses.

Conversely, alcohol depresses the CNS activity, leading to:

  • General slowing of brain activity
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Slowed breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Temporary euphoria
  • Sedation

Alcohol slows down the activity of neurotransmitters, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Excessive alcohol consumption causes cognitive and motor function impairments, memory loss, and blackouts.

While alcohol can initially appear to ease anxiety symptoms, it ultimately exacerbates them. It can trap people in a vicious cycle of drinking to alleviate anxiety and then experiencing anxiety about drinking.

In dual diagnosis treatment Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, treatment begins with alcohol detox. It progresses to uncovering the root causes of alcohol abuse and anxiety and helping patients develop healthy coping skills.

Turn to Evoke Wellness in Cohasset for Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

Co-occurring disorders can devastate individuals and their families when left untreated. Anxiety and alcohol abuse play off one another, creating a vicious cycle that leaves many helplessly trapped. When individuals get sober without treating their underlying anxiety, or vice versa, it frequently results in relapse.

The experienced, compassionate treatment team at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset knows that successful recovery can only happen when both conditions are treated concurrently. We utilize a combination of evidence-based and holistic therapies to help patients heal mentally, physically, and emotionally, including but not limited to the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Acupuncture therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Trauma therapy
  • Yoga
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy & counseling
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

If you or your loved one struggles with alcohol and anxiety or any other co-occurring disorders, help is available. Contact our team at 866.931.6429 to begin your healing journey today, or fill out our online form.